FDA approves new drug combination to treat patients with pleural mesothelioma

Workers who were exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer or other illnesses may qualify to file a lawsuit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for a two-drug combination designed to treat pleural mesothelioma. The new drug regimen — a combination of the medications Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) — is the first mesothelioma drug treatment approved by the FDA in 16 years, and only the second ever FDA-approved mesothelioma treatment.

Opdivo and Yervoy are designed to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma, a type of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos that affects the lining of the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma cancer, affecting about 20,000 Americans each year.

As with other types of mesothelioma cancer, it can take decades after asbestos exposure before a patient develops symptoms of mesothelioma. Because mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, most patients survive only a few months or years after they are diagnosed with the disease.

Opdivo, Yervoy Extended Survival of Patients Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Under previous treatment regimens, the survival rate for pleural mesothelioma was low. Opdivo and Yervoy help to treat pleural mesothelioma by increasing T-cell function in order to reduce tumor size. The drug combination is intended for patients whose tumors cannot be removed by surgery.

During clinical trials to test the effectiveness of Opdivo and Yervoy versus chemotherapy, researchers found that patients who were treated with the two drugs survived an average of four months longer than patients who underwent a chemotherapy regimen. 

Patients in the clinical trial either received an intravenous infusion of Opdivo every two weeks and infusions of Yervoy every six weeks, or a six-round treatment with chemotherapy drugs. Patients who were treated with Opdivo and Yervoy survived an average of 18.1 months, while patients who were treated with chemotherapy survived an average of 14.1 months.

Prior to the FDA’s approval of Opdivo and Yervoy in October 2020, the only other FDA-approved drug treatment for mesothelioma was another combination regimen, which combined the drugs pemetrexed and cisplatin. In a press release announcing the FDA’s decision, Dr. Richard Pazdur, the director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, said that Opdivo and Yervoy had demonstrated “an improvement in overall survival for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.”

Free Legal Consultation for Patients With Mesothelioma Cancer 

Although recent advances in the treatment of mesothelioma cancer have helped to improve the survival rate of patients diagnosed with this disease, the costs of mesothelioma treatment are still astronomical.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, you may qualify to file a lawsuit in order to receive help with medical expenses or other costs. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced attorney who can advise you about your legal rights and help you begin the process of filing a case. 

For more information about filing a mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify, contact the law firm of Hissey, Mulderig & Friend to receive a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by filling out our free case evaluation form on the right side of this page. 

After reviewing your submission, a member of our staff will contact you to obtain more information and schedule your free consultation with an attorney.

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